review for Jeopardy on AllMovie

Jeopardy (1953)
by Craig Butler review

If Jeopardy's too-bare-bones screenplay keeps it from being a great film, it's still a taut, nifty little thriller that delivers plenty of excitement and keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat -- even as he rolls his eyes slightly at the blatant manipulation of the script. It's a great set-up: husband of vacationing family is trapped underneath heavy timber and must be rescued before the tide comes in and he drowns. Throw in a psychotic maniac who is going to keep the wife from getting help, and the picture practically writes itself -- and at times seems to have done just that. But director John Sturges doesn't care if there's a lack of subtlety and nuanced characterization to the material -- he's hell-bent on making this as exciting a little picture as he can, and he succeeds admirably. He's helped no end by Barbara Stanwyck as the wife and Ralph Meeker as the psycho. No one played these kind of determined-but-distressed damsels better than Stanwyck, and as usual she gives the role her all, not caring that the script ain't exactly Shakespeare. For his part, Meeker grabs hold of the role and shows us how darned entertaining a dangerous nut case can be. By contrast, poor Barry Sullivan is left with little to do and therefore makes little impression.